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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 11 February 2021) . . Page.. 505 ..

MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health and Minister for Mental Health) (4.45): I thank Ms Lee for the opportunity to speak on this government’s commitment to addressing the drivers and impacts of poverty in Canberra. As the Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services, I take seriously my obligation to continue to act on poverty in our community. That does not mean putting aside decades of progress and understanding of poverty and the policy responses needed to address it, as Ms Lee is asking us to do.

The parliamentary and governing agreement makes many commitments that will help to address poverty in Canberra, including a plan to review and increase funding for the community sector to account for increased population, demand, complexity of community needs and costs of service delivery. Our initiatives reflect extensive consultation with community sector organisations delivering essential services to people experiencing poverty in our community. Those services see the impacts of poverty every day and understand its root causes.

Consultation has shaped our commitments in the parliamentary and governing agreement to increase emergency accommodation funding through OneLink; expand specialist homelessness service capacity; support the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-controlled community housing provider; deliver universal access to early learning for three-year-olds; ensure that ACT legislation can identify and effectively respond to modern-day slavery; amend the Residential Tenancies Act to end no-cause evictions; expand the number of properties that can access assistance under the affordable community housing land tax exemption pilot; and improve the extended care system for 18 to 21-year-olds in the out of home care system. I understand there are announcements to come about expanding bus services in the ACT, which will help deliver a more sustainable, less congested, more accessible Canberra.

These policies reflect the ACT government’s progress towards a nuanced understanding of the intersecting causes of poverty in the ACT, including the relationships between poverty and health, gender, violence, and issues affecting First Nations community members.

In opposing Ms Lee’s motion I seek to recognise the need to put into action the priorities we have already consulted on. The 1999 ACT Poverty Task Group was set up at a time when the extent of poverty in the ACT was not recognised or understood. Since then we have built stronger connections to services and organisations that serve the Canberra community. We also have access to incredibly robust, longitudinal data on poverty in the ACT.

If you would like an in-depth analysis of this data, please feel free to pop in to my office, where I can take you through the past 42 years of housing costs and labour force data, with a gendered lens. I have maps showing that the greatest concentrations of households living in poverty in the ACT are in Tuggeranong and west Belconnen, as well as some suburbs in the inner north, Woden and Weston Creek, and Gungahlin.

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